October 15, 2003

Willie Lynch is Dead (1712?-2003)

There is No Willie Lynch
OK, this is something I've believed for years, so I'm glad to see someone has finally done a little research to support my theory.

For those of you who don't know, allegedly, there's a copy of a speech written by a slave holder named Willie Lynch to instruct his peers on ways to foster disunity among the slaves as a means of nonviolent pacification. The basic idea is that, if you're too busy fighting your brother, you won't worry about the boot of the oppressor on your neck.

OK, so, for the moment, let's ignore the rather absurd image of the keynote speaker at the Colonial Slavedrivers Convention.

This gentleman, Dr. William Jelani Cobb of Spelman College, points out the obvious inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and anachronisms in the letter itself in this column.

But, at a deeper level, when have young people ever needed someone to tell them to hate old people? When have men ever needed to be formally instructed to hate women? And when have people ever needed a coach to instruct them how to hate people who look different than them? The crux of the Willie Lynch argument is that, if it wasn't for the damned white man, all Black people everywhere would all just love each other and work in spiritual-humming unison towards our common goal.

I'm sorry, but that's simply rediculous. All you have to do is look at the example in the master's house itself. Even rich white people can't get along with each other. As long as human beings have individual & conflicting needs, there will never be a united hive mind where we all agree to do our part & not hate on each other. It's human nature.

But this gets at the larger problem with conspiracy theorists. I think alot of people would much rather that there actually was an all-powerful boogeyman who has some massive document stored on his laptop called toying_with_everyone_elses_lives_for_my_amusement.pps. The idea of a malavolent controller can be far more comforting than the alternative: a world where, sometimes, bad things happen that are completely outside of anyone's control. After all, a bad daddy is better than no daddy at all, right?

Willie Lynch is a fairy tale. Rather than expending our energy assigning blame, maybe everyone (black, white, etc.) should devote their time to doing the things WE ALREADY KNOW WE"RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING, i.e. treating members of the opposite sex with at least courtesy to give folks the chance to earn our respect; honoring the elders who've been where you're going while respecting the young for their fresh energy; KNOWING (and I don't mean just saying it, KWOWING) that you have intrinsic value because you are a living, breathing human being and not worrying whether some other person is more valuable than you because they're lighter/darker/taller/shorter/skinnier/fatter/etc.

To Hell with Willie Lynch.

Keep working on yourself.
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